tv [untitled] May 15, 2011 3:30am-4:00am PDT
go about the business of reforming some of those basic laws. i'll just mention a few. first of all, title 7 of the civil rights act of 1964, the basic law that protects civil rights or the protection against discrimination. back in the 1980's, clarence thomas used to be the head of the equal employment opportunity commission. he signed off on a directive that said that title 7 applies to employment decisions that are made based on criminal background checks because those decisions had a disparate impact on people of color. there are great procedures in place that say that employers cannot discriminate on some based on a criminal record unless they can show that it is based directly on the job. basic common sense standards that are not in force because people mostly locked around -- employers mostly walk around saying that anybody with a criminal record of a felony or
these blanket policies are illegal under title 7, so we need to strengthen title 7, up the title 7, and apply the standards to state law as well. and there is a good piece of legislation that would do some of that. then, san francisco was one of the first communities to adopt a policy called and the box -- ban the box. it is responsible for getting this whole thing going, but now, 21 local cities and counties around the country have adopted san francisco's policy, and three states now, two in the past year, when they remove the question about your criminal background from the job application, and a delay the process until the end of the hiring process. basically, they remove a lot of the stigma are under criminal
background, and they are creating a more fair process of giving you a shock -- giving you a shot based on the merits of the position. but i said, there's a lot more interest in that. i have been talking a lot. i'm going to stop there because ensure other folks have something to say. and i talk to us about changes in the law and some of the efforts being made in california right now, and where are we falling short, and what needs to be expanded as it relates to prior criminal arrests and convictions? -- >> talk to us about changes in the law. >> forest talked about the issue of discrimination against people with criminal records -- maurice. that mean we would not need these other remedies, but we are a long way off from that being the national standard, unfortunately. what i work with people on every day as cleaning their records up to the extent allowable under california law, so cleaning your
record up to the extent allowable under california state law is really different from saying "clean slate." i feel like we are at best raising expectations unfairly because there is no clean slate in california, but we are trying to improve the laws that there are and expand them. actually, this session and assembly -- my coworker who works on policy in my office has been successful in working with community partners and putting forward ab 2068, and it is really a technical fix, not sending terribly exciting, and if i say it, your eyeballs will fall out of your head, but it basically updates penal code section 1204a the expunge men or dismissal remedy, and brings it up to the same level as 120 3.4. the point is in some cases, people who can get that a remedy
for cases when they did not go to prison, there will be eligible to legally say -- some people, certain jobs, they are able to answer "no convictions" for certain jobs, but again, is a far cry from now even having to answer those questions. the problem with the laws in california are that they are very piecemeal. they were written over a long stretch of time. they do not really interact with each other very well, and did not do as much -- i feel like i am being so negative, so i'm going to try to think of something positive. they do sell certain people. a major problem we have is that for people who have gone to prison in california, for this cases for which they were sentenced, the only remedy is something called a certificate of rehabilitation, which is so far from expunge meant -- it is
a gold star on your criminal record that you get to take around and show people. that would be my dream to work on that. the other option is pardon, and i think governor schwarzenegger has printed six, and not to my clients. >> nor mine. i want to return to dr. richard s. i think a cut you off, and you were giving us a real perspective on the impact criminal history has on a person's life, and a one to give you back your time. >> i appreciate the legislation and the work that you do any work you are doing, but i think we have kind -- we do not realize how big a problem this has become. united states today, we are this global power. we are fighting wars that do not end. you all know this.
and the war has come home. the war is in the streets. we have arrested millions of people for drugs. thank god i'm in california. show me some pot, you know? california is wonderful, but it is not that way in the rest of the country. they are still giving people felony convictions for possession of marijuana. you guys are really progressive. the rest of this country is not. the rest of this country is fighting a war that you cannot even protest. we are so far, even though barack is in the white house, isn't that great? the country is more right wing than you ever realized. besides berkeley and madison, an arbor, san francisco, and the rest of this country is right wing. what does that mean in terms of what is happening? we have 7 million people in constructive custody. 7 million at this moment.
jail, prison, probation, parole. last year, 80 million people were arrested in the united states. 1/3 of them were released in 26 hours. about 2/3 spent a day or longer in jail. we are incarcerating and solemnizing -- felonizing this population. you cannot discriminate by race, but you can buy criminal record. wisconsin was a police state, very liberal, right? it is against the law to have intercourse until you are 18 years old. but i just ask you this, this is san francisco, let me ask you this -- how many of you have smoked pot? [laughter] i ask this of my students every semester. how many of you have sexual intercourse before age 17? in my state, you are convicted
felons. right? so i tell my students, i tell them that i'm going to take my university's 15,000, and going to take my students, and we're going to march down to the police station, and they are all going to confess to having sexual intercourse before age 18. my point is there is no escape anymore. it is not just a criminal records. i really feel sorry for our children and grandchildren. we are telling -- felonizing recreational drugs, felonziinizg recreational sex. i go into prisons, and in interviewing lesbian women who are 19 and 20 years old who get 20 years for having sex with a 17 year-old. she's 19, she 17, she got 20 years.
that is what is coming to. in this country now with mandatory minimums, with these damned sex loss -- sex is illegal, guys. next, they are going to start arresting people for having sex out of marriage. sex offender laws, there has not been a word about that today. it is worse than the war on drugs. if you get arrested on a sex offense, that to happen to anyone of you. you are all than -- tehm. -- them. any of you to be arrested for inappropriate touching. what is that? five or 10 years? what gets to me now is it is not just about criminal records. many of you could be arrested tomorrow based on the supposition or the allocation of some witnesses that said that
you sexually assaulted them in an elevator in a parking lot. there is no defense. it will ruin your career. you will lose your home, your marriage, your kids, and then, the public defender will make you plead guilty. >> the scene of the fear of crime, and that was touched on a few times today, and the more fearful we are, the more laws we have any more prisons we have, and i think that is what dr. richards is touching on. in the realm of criminal policy, the more fear there is that the more laws we have that limit what people can do, people with criminal records can do. an example of that this session is there is a bill pending from
assemblyman night from palmdale that basically what say that anybody who has ever had a drug conviction cannot volunteer in their child's school. there already are laws on the books that allows school districts to criminal background checks, but this would add this permanent exclusion for any -- and i'm not talking only net labs. i'm talking any possession. that is an example of the ever- expanding range of laws that limit people with criminal records. that is ab 2034. >>? there anyone here who can inject a little hope -- is there anyone here who can inject a little hope? we know that there are barriers. we know the laws are overreaching. we have employers that ignore the laws. so what is the solution, dr.
richard s. -- dr. richards? how are we going to turn this around for california and the nation? >> i am actually giving this paper in two weeks in finland at a conference, but just some of our ideas that come out of the convict criminology group. the first is and the war on drugs. just and it. -- just end it. it started in 1960 with richard nixon. it has been going on 50 years. nobody has even kept count of how many people have been arrested -- 10 million, 20 million, 30 million? it sounds like something out of stalin's russia. turn in your neighbors, turn in your friends. if you turn in 10 people, you get less time in prison. that is what it is, you know? this war on drugs is something out of stalin's russia.
and let's stop this war on sex offenders before this gets way out of hand. it is already way out of hand. [applause] i know we are concerned about sexual assault and rape and people assaulting women and children -- i know that. most of the people in prison as sex offenders are not those people. i call them romeo and juliet's. he is 19 and she is 16 or she is 19 and he is 16. that is the most of the mark. let's face it -- we should know, especially in san francisco, that as human beings, we are not really comfortable with sex. some of us do not even know who we are, right? from day to day, right? you know, i mean, sex is a very complicated issue. the idea that sexual behavior
and people's aberrations with it or problems with it or confusions should send them to present for life sentences. in wisconsin, they have the same thing in iowa and illinois -- actually have built prisons just for sex offenders. can you imagine? the entire prison are sex offenders, mostly young men. that is what they are. young men who are confused about their sexuality. as my son was or your son was. i'm going to continue with this, just some of the suggestions we have had. get rid of the word "officer." you have police officers -- isn't that enough? we have, like, 2 million of them. it should be social workers, correctional workers. parole workers. get rid of parole officers and
probation officers all together. i call them resource centers so that when somebody comes out of jail or prison, that it would not matter if they came out of a mental hospital or and mentally retarded group home or they are getting out of jail or sleeping on the streets, when they get out, they go to something called a resourced center for health, and there, there would be social worker people that would help them. it does not really matter if they get out of jail or prison and a sleeping on the streets. i saw the same people in different pieces of their dreams. we provide visitors with a real release program, which means at least money to live for 90 days -- takes at least 90 days, right? to get a job, find a place to live. they are walking out of prison in many states with zero, no money.
mercy releases for ill prisoners. do you know what they do in federal prison? you have hepatitis c or aids or hiv, they lock you in solitary confinement until you die. that is what they do. that is what they do. i have seen marines out of the military prison -- i have seen them in leavenworth dying in solitary confinement. marines. because they got aids or hepatitis c. convert visn's into what i call residential treatment centers. -- convert prisons. knock down the gun towers. take down the razor wires. inspired the corrections officers, the people with badges that make $150,000 a year -- inspire their asses. [applause] i am all for the union. i do not like their union. what you do is you rehire people
back as correctional workers. what happens is in a state of california, where somebody needs help because they contradict or alcoholic or have a bad temper and they are going to be of their wife or sexually assault her stepdaughter -- whatever their problem is, let's do something about crime before they commit the crimes. they have this urge to do something illegal. they call the police and say, "i need help. i'm drug addicted. an alcoholic. please help me." right? they are directed to this treatment center where they can voluntary commit themselves for three to six months. they will do a workshop -- workup on their health. they need a health care assessment, and social work assessment, they have three to six months in which they work
within 24/72 upgrade their behavior is and abilities rather than wait for them to commit a crime and then send them to prison, right? we call these residential treatment centers. the place has 2000 beds. they can treat as many as 8000 people a year. in california, the reason they have so many heroin addicts on the street because you are a heroin addict, you cannot get drug treatment. the only of us who can get it are people with health insurance. anyone will tell you on the street we need residential drug treatment. take some of these dam presence, take down the gun towers, turned into a residential drug treatment centers -- some of
these damned prisons. >> what are your suggestions as to the reform? one area we have not really talked about much is the impact of technology. where is that going now, and how do we need to expend that? how do we deal with the information that is being disseminated, how do we slow that down? are there other areas that also are bleeding into employment and housing, and what is the solution, is my question? he>> there has been a real leadership on the country to come up with smarter ideas, and we have had a lot of good examples and policies, state and federal for the past 10 years or
so, so the reform agenda is not that big a secret. they have been a lot of reports that put it together in one place. i think the real challenge that has been touched on is really leadership, and a lot of it has to do with leadership and people really stepping up in leadership positions, and unfortunately, the politics of the equation are still really complicated. that is what a lot of people are saying. it is so easy to drop a bill and create havoc on thousands of workers, and that is what happens for political reasons. i honestly do not think that -- remember when a trucker -- when the truck below up on the other side of the bay bridge? there were and million accusations that that trucker had a criminal record and that is why, basically, the truck blew up and we had all these
problems, so there were bills dropped in statements made by leading politicians from boxer on down. it turned out his record was very minor and had nothing to do with the driver or anything else. the guy was fine, and he has been working hard to put his life back together. we want to reward that kind of thing. i think it takes a lot of real leadership and there are some great leaders out there and started to staff in addition to political figures. in a lot of credit to civil rights organizations that are starting to do a lot in this area. the naacp, the new director really has made this an important issue, and that is what is going to take. we could run down the list of all the great things there are to do, but we have to push back on this kind of hysteria on crime, and it takes leadership to do it -- it takes individuals, all of us, to do it as well, to put pressure on leaders, but it takes real
leadership to do that. that is how i would put it together all in one place. >> in the vein of what is hopeful, and there is a reentry coordinating council in san francisco and also one in alameda county. what has been helpful to me is i think that overwhelmingly, we have this being tough on crime problem as opposed to being smart on crime, but i think that even in places where you would not expect it, people are starting to make the connection. for example, a lieutenant from the sheriff's department in alameda county is one of the most consistent and supported participants in the coordinating council for reentry in alameda county. i would say it is an unlikely ally, and i'm sure that we are lucky in his leadership and support. but i do think it is because they are starting to see the connection between services and opportunities for people after incarceration.
and the outcomes, which are positive. in the same vein, my office, we have funding to provide legal services for people with criminal records. unfortunately, the san francisco public defender is unique in this state. there are a few other models, but it is unfortunately not in every county, but there is a clean slate project, and that is not a foregone conclusion. the other thing is i and my bad attitude, i probably lost over the good laws that do exist. one challenge where i hope we see a lot of movement is dismantling the structural barriers people have and space from accessing what laws do exist, so that would be another one. from the very least, providing these legal services around the state. also, just a simple "know your
rights" campaign. there are people who are lawyers who probably do not know the laws and what protections are a fortune in the realm of employment law but also what remedies are available in the realm of reentry/criminal law. >> thank you very much. we have a few questions from the audience. when people lose their jobs, they are tonight and of limit benefits. this is to meet stiff and denies a safety net for those re- entering. is this something that should be changed? >> years ago there were situations that you could benefit from unemployment benefits.
people need help and income to get by. that is not unprecedented and there are really good arguments for doing that. it is a big list if you are calling it unemployment benefit. i would call this income support and think along those lines. >> many people have criminal backgrounds which are dismissed. mr. anyway to see employers -- is anyway to determine dismissed employers?
issues. this follows discrimination charges. if you would take an adverse action against you, you are supposed to have a copy with the record. get your hands on the thing. they're supposed to do this. i lost this job because of my record. we can work to try to figure this out. >> city departments and courts routinely calls up the names of those arrested on the internet. what can be done to protect people from this kind of dissemination?
>> i think that we are fortunate in this county where they put all court records on the internet. i has been in heated discussions. there are competing first amendment issues. i don't know what the solution is that i know that there are two competing concerns. >> how many of his people -- of the people in this room have ever